One of 2020’s biggest fitness trends doesn’t require the gym

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Top fitness trends of 2020
WATCH: Top fitness trends of 2020 – Dec 28, 2019

The fitness industry is nearly a $100-billion global industry — and it doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

In 2019, some of the year’s biggest fitness trends included high-intensity interval training (HIIT), wearable exercise technology and all-natural protein bars.

So what does 2020 have in store? Here are the biggest fitness trends of 2020, according to leading industry experts:

Active recovery

Taking top spot this year is “active recovery,” according to the 2020 fitness trends report by canfitpro, a Canadian fitness education company.

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Active recovery focuses on stretching and improving mobility and is intended to complement workouts. Active recovery can also include low-intensity exercises, like yoga, or mindfulness activities like meditation.

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“Since active recovery encompasses anything and everything that can help Canadians feel better, move better and perform better, it should be something you focus on daily,” said Mo Hagan, chief operating officer of canfitpro.

Hagan explained that active recovery doesn’t require going to the gym, either, as it can be done nearly anywhere: grab a foam roller and release your shoulders while watching TV or do some yoga on your break at work.

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Leg exercises to help with shoveling

“It would make good sense to begin to incorporate some of the many self-care, active recovery activities into a daily practice in between or at the end of a workout, on your days off from exercising and especially when you are travelling and often have to sit for longer periods of time,” she said.

Functional fitness

Functional fitness has made trend lists for several years now, and 2020 is no exception. According to both canfitpro’s report and a worldwide survey by The American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Health & Fitness Journal, functional fitness will remain part of Canadians’ workout routines in the new year.

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Functional fitness is exercises that replicate actual physical activities people do in their everyday lives, like shovelling snow or carrying groceries.

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The movements use multiple muscle groups and are intended to improve balance, increase strength and help prevent injury. Functional fitness makes it easier for people to carry out common tasks outside of the gym.


HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense movement followed by brief periods of rest, as the purpose of these exercises is to get the heart rate up.

According to ACSM’s survey results, “HIIT was number one in the survey for 2014 and 2018 … and has been in the top five between 2014 and 2020.”

Hagan says many Canadians like HIIT workouts because they can be done in a shorter period of time than other types of exercise and they also deliver results.

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How to get an entire workout with just one piece of equipment

“Knowing that you only have to push yourself for very short periods of time before you get a short rest is a training formula that most people can get their minds around doing,” she said.

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“Everyone can work hard for 45 seconds — that’s all [you] have to think about in that moment.”

Nutritional and healthy eating programs

Exercise is undoubtedly part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but eating whole, nourishing foods is key, too.

Canfitpro predicts nutritional programs will increase in popularity in 2020, and ACSM says there’s a growing trend to integrate health promotion and “lifestyle medicine” into workout routines.

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Lifestyle medicine encourages people to adopt healthy practices into their day-to-day routines on top of exercise. These behaviours can include eating well, eliminating smoking and moderating alcohol consumption.

The goal is to engage in better overall habits and not abandon well-being once you leave the gym.

Workplace health and wellness programs

It’s no secret that many of us are sitting at desks far longer than we did in the past. Sitting for too long without movement isn’t great for our backs, let alone our overall health.

More workplaces are recognizing the need for health promotion and implementing wellness programs like meditation sessions or on-site exercise classes.

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Universal piece of equipment that can benefit everyone

Canfitpro’s report points out that workplaces are using these methods to help prevent burnout, manage stress and boost productivity.

Bodyweight training

Bodyweight training requires no to minimal equipment, making it an easy and affordable way to exercise.

Both canfitpro and ACSM rank bodyweight training on their list of top 2020 fitness trends, as it is an accessible form of movement for both beginner and advanced gymgoers.

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This type of exercise builds strength by using the body’s weight as resistance as well as movement. Examples of bodyweight exercises include pushups, lunges, burpees and V-sits.

Things to remember

No matter what type of workouts you do, Hagan says variation is key. You don’t want to get bored with exercise or plateau, and you want to constantly challenge yourself, too.

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“While it is true that people are creatures of habit and like to do the same thing when they exercise, it is recommended that you mix up your week with a minimum of three different types of exercise,” she said.

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Hagan suggests doing a combination of aerobic (cardio) exercise, strength-training exercise and some form of flexibility, like stretching or yoga, throughout the week.

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